Hi there! I'm new to AW and was wondering if anyone could tell me the best way to dive and get started. I currently have approximately 40 auctions running and 25 store items. Should I import these auctions or start fresh with AW? We usually have 100-200 listings and I am going to be working on tons of new ones to start on Monday. I also need to beef up our store. We're getting business from the store and would have more if I had more inventory in it. PLEASE advise! Anything would be greatly appreciated. I want to be sure that folks don't get emailed and invoiced when they already have, so I'm thinking about starting fresh. I've read the tutorials and it just doesn't seem to directly answer my question!!!
Okay...take this with a grain of salt ;-) What worked for me might not work for you...
I had a similar situation - about 100 store items and about 200 regular auctions. One of the big reasons I got AW2K was for the HTML template system - I wanted a way to limit the number of HTML files I needed to edit in the event of a change to one of my "generic" sections - like shipping policies. (I had just gone thru the tedious task of editing over 200 auctions by hand). The second was that AW2K merged multiple auction wins automatically - something I was having to do by hand with my last management system. I mention "why" I switched to AW2K cause it might be relevant to how YOU need to do things. AW2K is very flexible, and some features you might want to bypass - but I think it's important to note up front what you expect to get out of the system so you set things up appropriately.
Okay...so here's what I figured out during my transition.
1 - If you want to automate auction creation - then re-create all of your auctions in AW2K. The importing feature is sufficient (though not clean) if you want to stick with regular HTML created auctions. BUT, if you want the process automated, you will need to start fresh in AW2K. Expect a learning curve here - even if you have lots of HTML experience. My auction designs were not particularly "fancy" or "tricky", but they did use tables and colors, and it took me a few days (and a lot of testing) to figure out how to translate them properly to AW2K. If your auctions are simple and straight forward, then you can probably use one of the supplied templates - just edit the relevant text and perhaps the colors, and you're all set.
Inventory - took me awhile to understand this since my last system didn't have this feature. But for me, this features works great for all my repeat auctions (about 99% of mine repeat every week). I use inventory for both my regular and store items - when I need to list, I use the "create auction lot" feature (unless it's a "relist", then it's already "offline" in Auction lots). I did find the need to make seperate inventory items for store vs regular auctions - but that's because I never use BIN in my regular auctions, and I didn't want to have to edit each auction. The copy feature in Inventory is a real time-saver.
The part that probably took the most setup time (for me at least), was the email templates. I send a lot of emails for a lot of specific situations - so I had to transfer these over from my old system, and then rework them using AW2K variables. I will say that AW2K's email template editor is top-notch - you can handle just about anything.
Finally, it's good you went thru the tutorials, though you ultimately won't really understand the AW2K "work flow" until you've processed an auction start-to-finish. I ran AW2K along side my old system for about a week - running around 4 AW2K auctions a night to make sure everything was right. Lots of edits and adjustments as I went. By the end of the week, a few people had paid, so I got to process incoming payment emails, process payments in AW2K, and use the print-invoice-print-labels feature. Learned lots doing this - and looking back, I am very glad I wasn't doing this with 25 auctions at a time like I usually do.
After that week I felt I had everything setup well enough and understood it good enough to switch everything over to AW2K. I adjusted many little things that first month - and figured out how to do a lot of things easier (thanks mostly to an experienced user on here called Chinacat) - but bottomline, AW2K did the job.
This was just my experience with the product, though I think most would agree there is a learning curve that you should anticipate, so it might be good to start slowly and give yourself time to absorb the process.
Hope this helps...